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Russian Gulch Fern Canyon and Waterfall Trail Loop

MODERATE 101 reviews

Russian Gulch Fern Canyon and Waterfall Trail Loop is a 6.2 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Mendocino, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 6.2 miles Elevation Gain: 567 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

hiking
21 days ago

This is truly glorious trail - the best We’ve ever experienced! On our way back we used North trail - this way we didn’t have to repeat the same trail

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful waterfall !!! You have to pay $7 @ the entrance and lots of parking space. Tall redwood trees

hiking
2 months ago

We enjoyed the hike very much. The first part of the lollipop (before the loop) is paved for bike traffic. It is lovely, but I enjoyed the loop part even more because of the trees. The waterfall was lovely! And I likeed that the trail to you to the both the bottom and top of the falls. There were some muddy patches, but nothing to deter you. If I had to do it again I would have brought a picnic to eat at the falls.

hiking
2 months ago

Very enjoyable hike out to the waterfall and back. You amble through lush greenery, including lots of berry bushes, alongside the creek. There is a short climb of a few hundred feet that adds a nice but easy workout to the mix. The newer trees growing out of the stumps of fallen giants was a particular highlight.

hiking
3 months ago

Nice hike ... clear Trail some parts still a little muddy..incline last .7 mile to waterfall but beautiful once there... we did full loop and a little more incline but then easy decent back to fern trail.. will explore more hikes here.

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

Nice foliage on trail but muddy at times. Not crowded (June). No dogs allowed but most of trail allowed bicycles. Some elevation changes but nothing too strenuous.

hiking
4 months ago

It’s a beautiful waterfall.

The hike to Russian Gulch falls was gorgeous today! It started out a little muddy, which actually surprised me given it hasn’t rained too much. If I had brought my hiking shoes I wouldn’t have thought twice but I left them at home and the sneakers go wet the second they hit anything with water. There were a few spots that were hard to avoid any mud, despite the trail being partially paved. It was an easy 2.5 miles out to the fork at a moderate 16.5 min/mile pace, completely flat... though the app seems to say it was a very slight uphill for all of that (it didn’t seem that way). I noticed a few small patches of poison oak along the way so I was careful while we had to avoid the mud that I didn’t land in a patch of poison. Departed the hike around 10:45 and arrived at the falls by 11:35. The sun was already high enough to splash lots of hot spots on the falls and foliage around. Along the trail we didn’t really see anyone but there were 4 other families at the falls when we got there. We opted for the left fork, the 0.7 mile quicker route to go straight to the falls, then continued on the loop, up the ridge and back around. We continued onto the North trail on the way back so we could mix it up. Beautiful along that home and avoids all the mud. It had a couple hundred feet of climbing but I’d call it quite easy - didn’t even break a sweat getting up. Most of the flowers on the trail are gone. There are no more rhododendrons on the lower trails. We saw a few at the higher elevations, especially on the North trail. I don’t expect they’ll last more than a few days... we saw lots of Rhodi petals on the ground. Really loved this trail and I may go back in the morning to photograph the falls with my real camera.

hiking
muddy
4 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

I hiked Fern Canyon trail and Waterfall loop. Quite beautiful. If you’re out by yourself as I was, you become aware of the utter silence around you. It’s quite peaceful. I chose to follow the waterfall path to the left. It can be difficult in places because of the incline. I feel like it’s the better approach because you first see the waterfall full on rather than from the top. There is a wood bench where I sat for a bit to take it all in. I call it Contemplation Bench. The water is crystal clear and cold. A perfect beautiful spot! The way out moves away from the water somewhat and guides you through the silent forest.

bugs
muddy
5 months ago

BEAUTIFUL hike! We got to the waterfall, stayed a bit to enjoy the scenery and went back the way we came; skipped the loop because we didn't have time. Hiked in early April. It definitely had muddy spots, it had rained the day before, but nothing unmanageable as long as you don't mind getting dirty! More people there than expected but it didn't feel crowded.

hiking
muddy
6 months ago

We started out on the Fern Canyon trail then took the Falls Loop trail. Some sections were muddy and wet, but if you’re wearing hiking boots it isn’t an issue. We weren’t huge fans on hiking the asphalt on the Fern Trail, just doesn’t feel natural! We did the Fern Canyon trail to the North Trail on the way back- because we like a challenge! The first section of the North Trail had a few uphill switch backs but wasn’t too bad, it then leveled off when you got to the top of the mountain and was pretty easy the remainder of the way. We ended up doing about 8 miles, according to my phone. There were plenty of flowers and lots of new, curly fern growth to admire. I enjoyed the Falls Loop trail the most because it followed along the creek. Trickling water, birds chirping, butterflies flitting, wind in the tree tops. It’s heavenly! Just pick a trail and go!

Beautiful day after a rainy day yesterday. We ran into boot-high water on the join to the North Boundary Trail so turned back to complete the North Trail, the Falls Loop Trail, and back on the Fern Canyon Trail.

we did a walk from the beach parking lot, to the north trail, to the waterfall and looped back to the cars along the creek. I like the trail beside the creeks best, most of our walk was in the forest. the steep uphill at the start of the north trail was a good workout, once we got up high on the ridge it was pretty level walking for two miles.

hiking
7 months ago

Super easy and pretty nice. A little sloshy from the event rains

hiking
10 months ago

Walked from Caspar RV and back- 25 kms- via the lighthouse on the way home. The waterfall loop is up and down but quite beautiful. After the loop we added on the North Trail home, just for exercise and a change of route. Out and back is ok but loops are better.

hiking
10 months ago

November 2018 - We hiked the semi paved 2.0 mile bike section (4 mile round trip) in heavy rain and enjoyed the trek. The hiking surface held up wet and we even encountered 5 sets of hikers along the way. If it’s raining and you want a nice hike, then this trail is for you.

11 months ago

Great trail! Well maintained

hiking
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trail/Time of Year: Fern Canyon to Falls Loop during February 2018 and July 2018 Parking: Pay for parking (less than $10). Parking at the trailhead is very competitive every time we go. Many people walk in from further parking options (.25-.5 miles). Terrain: Flat near the beginning. Entire trail is shaded. Most of the trail fits three people side-by-side comfortably. Approaching the waterfall the trail does thin and you will have to practice trail sharing etiquette. We seem to run into some mud at the start no matter what time of year we go. Short up and down changes in elevation as you near the waterfall. Left fork has maybe 3 short sets of stairs and is .7 miles. Right fork is 1.6 miles (we haven’t taken the right fork yet). Child friendly: We believe so – although we take our kids hiking often and they know what to expect. We took our 3, 5, and 9-year-old and all walked the entire trail with some breaks. There was some complaining near the end and they fell asleep 5 minutes later on the drive home. No steep cliffs and the water is very shallow - do not let kids play at the top of the waterfall where it is slippery and a dangerous fall. Bring lots of waters and snacks and ensure the kids do not litter. Modern Conveniences: Benches near mid-trail with bike rack. Bathroom at start of trail. Humidity/Temperature: Temperate. Mid 50s during winter. Low 60s to 70s during other months. Water Consumption: Bring lots of water. The trail isn’t dry or hot but it is long. If you have LifeStraw or similar product you will have constant access to water. Trail Traffic: We typically run into people every 20-30 minutes depending on the day of the week. Everyone is very friendly and all just seem happy to be enjoying nature. You will typically find pairs or small groups of people at the waterfall. People tend to stop and eat here. Cleanliness/maintenance: Occasional napkin on the side of the trail. We have never seen plastic bottles or cans which always gives us hope that people are decent. We have seen cigarette butts at the waterfall. If you are a smoker, wait until you leave the park to smoke. Trail is well-maintained by park staff. Wildlife: Birds. Frogs. Lizards. We found one Gartner snake out of three separate hikes. Found a banana slug, lots of butterflies, mosquitoes, etc. Bring bug spray. Plantlife: They call this trail Fern Canyon for a reason. Wild raspberry plants along the first half of the trail. Remember that the wildlife depends on these for food. Also remember that lots of berries + no toilets = unpleasant hike. TONS of mushrooms of several types during the rainy months – on the trail, trees, stumps, etc. Very few mushrooms during the drier months. Landmarks: Russian Gulch Waterfall which is 36ft tall and nearly as wide. We have noticed that the waterfall has a stronger flow during the rainy season but is always flowing regardless of season. Small pool of water at base of waterfall that is too shallow to swim. Russian Gulch creek which runs along the entire trail. Trees growing out of stumps of other trees. Fallen redwoods that you can walk across (lead nowhere and not required).

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fern canon is as beautiful as it gets. We were the only people on the hike until near the end but we did go early on a Thursday. The falls were beautiful. Moderate hike as it says.

hiking
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hiked mid-May 2018. Arrived after 2pm and got a spot by trail head for free but that is lucky. Mostly flat for first two miles and very pretty. Signage is decent but a number of people we came upon said they were unsure of where they were going. The falls are great and a must-see. The remainder of the loop after the falls leads to a whole different terrain. Overall a good walk but if you are in pretty good shape not too challenging. If in average shape this is a good workout.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Follow the Trail through a lush canyon. At the junction, I recommend that you take the Falls Loop Trail. It's the long way around but it tracks through an upland Redwood Forest. Wildflowers & Coast Rhododendron bloom in the spring. The Russian Gulch Falls are a good place to rest awhile. I also recommend a sojourn on the beach and a walk out to the coastal bluffs & the Devil's Punchbowl. The Highway 1 bridge is considered by many to be the most beautiful concrete arch bridge in California.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Completed this on June 11th. So much green! I came at sunrise and there was no one on the trail at all. I paid 8 bucks at the entrance of the park for parking

hiking
Monday, April 30, 2018

Beautiful, all the fern so green and healthy, the waterfall is breathtaking.

hiking
Sunday, April 01, 2018

I completed this trail on a Wednesday at the end of March. There were some areas where the trail was muddy, but nothing you couldn’t walk around (or through!) There were some areas with limited coverage but for the most part the trail is covered by beautiful redwoods! It was a little muggy so definitely bring bug spray to fend off mosquitos. I have not done a hike in a while, so halfway through the waterfall loop portion, I was huffing and puffing a bit, but once you make it to the waterfall, it’s smooth sailing back to the campground. There’s plenty of opportunities for breaks to take photos of the wildlife and landscape! It’s absolutely gorgeous!

hiking
Sunday, March 18, 2018

Relatively easy trail. Was fairly muddy after some rain, but manageable. The waterfall was in full force and a nice touch to the loop. It's interesting getting a number of different forest ecosystems. The beginning is more oaks, then more redwoods when in the canyon, and pines when on the hill.

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